Your logo is just one facet of your school’s brand. But as service organizations, schools must understand that every touch point with audiences represents an opportunity to manage the brand, from the way the phone is answered to the admissions interview to the way student reports are written and delivered. Every day holds dozens of opportunities to reinforce those elements in your mission that you hold dear and that distinguish you from other educational options. How effectively you deliver on your promise is wrapped up in people’s accumulated experiences with your school; do it well and consistently and you will generate satisfaction and loyalty.
In terms of marketing communications, traditional product branding strategies must be adapted to address the special circumstances of independent schools. It is virtually impossible to reduce your mission, culture and programs to a tagline or even a short list of tangible features. Defining your school’s essence (supporting your position) through story telling is where you get the big impact. You get one first chance—audiences will judge the quality of your school by the quality of your website and print materials, so they better be good. And they better be relevant to the people you’d like to know your school.
It’s important to remember when crafting your story that your school has more qualities and program features in common with competitors than it does differences—only five to ten percent of who you are is truly distinctive. After all, you’re all schools committed to excellence in education. This is why the quality of communications coming from your school is so crucial to establishing a unique and accurate institutional identity.
Since ultimately brand is an experience, the limited resources an institution can put into communications should be aimed at 1) name recognition and visibility (especially with new audiences) and 2) building pride and engagement (especially with the current school community, your most loyal legion of pollinators). This leads to your active management of word of mouth, the most powerful and enduring tool at your disposal.